Zomm Wireless Leash Plus Review

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$79.95

Pros: Works with any Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone; Can call 911; Speakerphone functionality; Loud alarm

Cons: Alarm can't override iPhone mute; Unintuitive Interface; USB and Bluetooth connection problems; Lack of customization options

Verdict: The feature-packed Zomm Wireless Leash Plus works with any Bluetooth-enabled phone but has an unintuitive interface and short battery life.

The Zomm Wireless Leash Plus doesn't just provide alerts when it's out of range of a connected mobile phone, it also has emergency call features and can function as a wireless speakerphone. Unlike the Hippih hipKey and the Kensington Proximo, the Wireless Leash Plus works with any Bluetooth-enabled phone, rather than just iOS or Android devices. The Zomm is feature-packed, but does the functionality match the $79.95 price?

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Design

The Zomm Wireless Leash Plus is a round key fob with a single button in the middle of the front of the device. Measuring 1.5 inches in diameter and 0.6 inches high, the Wireless Leash Plus is larger than the Kensington Proximo Tag (1.5 inch diameter, 0.25 inches thick) and slightly smaller but thicker than the moon-shaped Hippih hipKey (1.9-inch diameter, 0.3-inches high).

At the top of the Wireless Leash Plus is a metal bar to attach the device to a keychain. The button in the middle of the device has a large letter Z, which lights up when charging or sounding the alarm. On the bottom left is a covered microUSB port for charging and managing the device settings via a PC. There are also three oval-shaped lights around the perimeter of the dongle. On the back of the Wireless Leash Plus is a circular speaker with the words "Wireless Leash" printed in small letters below.

The Wireless Leash Plus feels chunkier than other proximity alert devices we've tested, due to both its thickness and plain circular design. We much prefered the unobtrusive design of the Kensington Proximo.

myZOMM Software

The Zomm Wireless Leash Plus isn't just for smartphones. It can connect to any Bluetooth-enabled phone, be it iOS, Android or even an older feature phone. Users without an iPhone or Android device must download the myZOMM desktop software in order to manage and customize their device; otherwise there's an available myZOMM mobile app in the respective app markets. Most of the features between the desktop and mobile app overlap, but we couldn't adjust the leash length for the proximity alarm from the mobile app.

The myZOMM desktop app runs entirely through a Web browser, but requires a software download in order to connect and manage the device. The application simply opened a new tab in our browser to my.zomm.com. We were prompted to either sign in if we were already a member or create a new account.

We entered our email address, name and a password and were brought to the main eb-app screen, which immediately found the Wireless Leash Plus dongle that was connected via USB. From this screen, we could rename the device, change the emergency number to something other than 911, as well as adjust settings and toggle features on and off.

A large portion of the website was simply text instructions, rather than links that actually performed functions on the device. For example, navigating to the Mobile Apps tab simply provided links to the myZOMM app in the iOS and Android app stores. There was also a large banner that took up a third of the page and showed a picture of a Wireless Leash dongle and instructions to customize our settings.

Features and Performance

There are three main features of the Wireless Leash Plus: a proximity alarm, emergency alerts and speakerphone capabilities. The only function that the Wireless Leash Plus shares with the Proximo and the hipKey is the proximity alarm; both the emergency alerts and the ability to act as a speakerphone are unique to this device.

The proximity alarm is set to a long leash by default, but this can be set to a shorter length via the myZOMM software. In our testing, the dongle and phone sounded an alert when the devices were approximately 150 feet away from each other. We were able to set the leash length to Short by connecting the dongle to our computer, as this setting can't be adjusted from the iPhone app. However, we weren't able to reconnect the device to our phone after this setting was changed. We had to reset the Wireless Leash Plus in order to reconnect the device to our phone and resume the testing, so we were never able to see how far we could get on a short leash.

The alarm on the dongle is surprisingly loud and grows progressively louder until the Z button is pressed to stop the alert. The small speaker is so loud that the Quick Start guide explicitly warns that "the alarm can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss if placed close to the ear."

The alarm on our phone wasn't quite as effective. Unlike the Kensington Proximo, the myZOMM app cannot override the iPhone's mute switch, and our phone only vibrated once when we were out of range. We tried again with our phone unmuted and got the same single vibrate as well as a short alarm that was repeated just twice. The phone's alert was at a medium volume, despite setting it to high in the myZOMM app.

The emergency features of the dongle can sound a loud alarm or call an emergency number, which is 911 by default but can be customized in the myZOMM software. The panic alarm is triggered when the Wireless Leash Plus is connected to a phone and the button is held for nine seconds. The panic alarm was extremely loud and the Quick Start guide provides the same warning against holding the dongle close to the ear. If the Z button is held down for 15 seconds, rather than nine, an emergency call will be placed using the connected mobile phone and using the device as an external speaker.

The Wireless Leash Plus can also be used as a wireless Bluetooth speaker, answering incoming phone calls and acting as a speakerphone. When connected to our iPhone, our phone ringer was loudly blasted from the Wireless Leash Plus dongle, even when the phone itself was muted. The speaker was very loud and not very clear, although the caller could hear us just fine. We could press the Z button once to transfer the call to our mobile phone and back and twice in a row to end the call.

Interface

Despite what we assume were the best intentions, the Zomm Wireless Leash Plus was extremely frustrating to use and even required us to reset the device once during our testing. The dongle isn't intuitive at all, with every feature being activated and deactivated depending on the current mode and how long the Z button is held.

When we plugged the Wireless Leash Plus into a computer, a voice from the dongle either said "update mode" or "charging." If the device said "charging," it could not be recognized by the myZOMM software. After searching through the documentation and performing a series of different button pressings and plugs and unplugs, the device was finally recognized. But we're not sure we could replicate what we did.

After this, however, the dongle no longer connected with our mobile phone. We tried holding down the button for different lengths of time and turning both the Wireless Leash Plus and our phone on and off. This time, we followed the instructions to hold the Z button until we heard a single beep, but it failed to work. It finally started working again when we took a paperclip and pressed the small recessed reset button on the top edge of the device.

Battery

According to Zomm, battery life on the Wireless Leash Plus lasts only two to three days per charge, with shorter life possible depending on usage. This is far less than the Hippih hipKey, which is designed to function for two to four weeks on a single battery and not even close to the 6-month battery of the Kensington Proximo.

We were able to fully charge the Wireless Leash Plus in just four hours, but plugging in this device will definitely be a common activity with the Zomm.

Verdict

The Zomm Wireless Leash Plus promises more than just proximity alerts. With its wireless speaker capabilities, emergency alerts and ability to connect to any Bluetooth-enabled phone, the device offers more features than the Hippih hipKey and the Kensington Proximo. However, connectivity issues, an inability to control the volume settings and a short battery life diminished our enthusiasm. At a price of $79.95, the Zomm Wireless Leash Plus is more expensive than the $59.99 Kensington Proximo and doesn't work as well. If you're constantly leaving your key or bag behind, you may want to look beyond the Zomm Wireless Leash Plus.

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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Accessories Type Cell Phones Accessories
Accessories Type Bluetooth Device
Accessories Type Apple Accessories
Battery Type/Life 2-3 days
Size 1.5 inch diameter, 0.6 inch height
Weight 0.8 ounces
Company Website http://www.zomm.com